Odds and Ends

August 7th, 2010

It’s a random kind of day, filled with random kinds of thoughts.  Like:

1.  It’s not just my daughter who craves sweets.  It’s also my (male) dog.  He just ate a plateful of brownies.  Don’t worry: I know dogs aren’t supposed to eat chocolate but this dog has been known to wolf down an entire chocolate cake with no ill effects other than a mildly off stomach.  Bad dog, though. Bad dog.  Oh, come over here, you cute yellow lab, you.  I just can’t stay mad at you for long . . .

2. Every once in a while–say every five or ten years–I read a short story that blows me away.  I still remember mulling over O’Henry’s “The Gift of the Magi” and Maupassant’s “The Necklace” (the MOST agonizing story ever written) as a fairly young kid, and Hemingway’s “The Short Happy Life of Fancis Macomber” when I was a bit older, moving on and up through O’Connor’s “Everything That Rises Must Converge,” Shaw’s “The Girls in Their Summer Dresses,” and Olsen’s “Tell Me a Riddle” (which is arguably more novella than short story).  But nothing in recent years has blown me away like the two stories I just read, both by Nathan Englander.  “Free Fruit for Young Widows” was the first story of his I’d ever read.  It was in The New Yorker and you can still read it online on their website. Because I thought it was so incredible, I checked his short story collection For the Relief of Unbearable Urges out of the library.  The whole collection is worth reading but the first story, “The Twenty-Seventh Man” is simply one of the best things I’ve ever read in my life.  Period.  It’s compassionate, harrowing, funny, poignant, horrifying . . .  all in a few pages.  And should be taught in every high school in this country.

3.  Realizing I have clothing in my closet and drawers that I’ve barely worn, I decided to stop buying new and start wearing out.  I’ve made a vow not to buy any new clothing, shoes or accessories for a year, from August 1, 2010 to August 1, 2011.  I would keep this to myself (especially since people get very hostile when you do things like this, as though it’s some kind of comment on THEIR habits which it isn’t, it’s a purely personal thing for me since I can’t seem to control my grabbing when I’m in a big store like Old Navy), except that by making it public I increase the pressure to keep my word, and I have a feeling I’ll need that extra pressure when the holiday season rolls around.

Note (added August 8): my sister just reminded me that I’m not the first member of our family to make this vow.  To learn how it went for her when she tried to give up buying clothing for a year back in 2005, read this.

4.  I have a couple of book signings on the calendar now.  If You Lived Here, You’d Be Home Now (at the rate my 5 Spot titles keep getting longer, the next one isn’t going to fit on the cover) has an official pub date of September 27, and I’ll be reading at my lovely local Indie Village Books in the Pacific Palisades at 2 p.m. on Saturday, October 2, and at Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena at 5 pm on October 16.  Please put those dates on the calendar if you live around here and come with a group of friends.  I promise to have wine and cheese!  Well, maybe not at the afternoon one: that might be more of a cookies and milk kind of event . . .

5.  My daughter asked if we could have a picnic today and I rather viciously spat out, “I hate picnics.”  Then I went and apologized and told her we could have a picnic if she really wanted.  But I realized it’s yet another thing I dislike that most people enjoy.  Anyone else hate picnicking?  It’s so nice and clean and climate-controlled inside . . .

  • Claudia says:

    I liked your odds and ends. Hmmm. I would like to read a story about a man name Pinchas who worries there is something wrong with him as he craves sweets (is he a woman? a dog?) who makes a vow never to buy new clothes for a year and says, “With the help of a G_d who fails to bring the sun I will do better with this vow than I did with my no coffee vow.” So he and his family go on a picnic in the dark with their dog only to learn the dog already ate all the food and the story would have a really long title such as “The Last Independent Orthodox Book Store Dog in Borough Park.”

  • Claire says:

    Just remember, Claudia, that with the coffee, I said from the beginning I made no promises, I was just TRYING to give it up. Whereas with the vegetarian thing, I’ve been very steadfast.

  • Katherine says:

    I want to make that vow too! I might join you. I just spent most of the day folding and putting away laundry. We all have too many things here that hardly get worn. I just don’t know if I would be able to control myself for a whole year.

    I hate picnics, they are such a mess. Well, I make a mess. Packing it is fine, it is the cleaning up part and lugging it all home and the mess it all makes in the bag. And most of the time my kids take one bite and run off and play and never touch the picnic part.

    On the subject of things I don’t like, I am starting to REALLY hate the mailman. Not the actual person (he is a very nice guy) but every time I see him all I can think is “great he is bringing another stack of paper to my door that I have to go through.”

  • Claire says:

    When my husband and I were much younger, he once wrote a line for a TV pilot that went something like, “I love the mail. It’s like getting little Christmas presents every day.” We both felt that way back then. That was before we grew up and mail was bills, bills, and more bills. And also bills. And sometimes school forms which may be even worse than bills (they take longer to deal with, anyway). Sigh. Now I just I rifle through it to see if there are any invitations or checks and the rest gets piled up for Rob to deal with. Poor guy.

  • Claudia says:

    Katherine makes a good point about the mail man bringing us another mess to clean up. I feel like a brat when the mail comes and I don’t feel like opening up a box I ordered from Amazon or I leave a thank you note unopened for a week until I worry someone will say, “So we were all surprised you didn’t come to my husband’s funeral. I mentioned he died in the P.S. portion of the thank you note I sent.”

  • Claire says:

    Are you guys as bad about rsvp’ing as I am? I toss invitations aside and even when I want to go to the event, I always think, “I’ll respond later” and then I’m never in the mood to call or email and eventually I get a desperate voice mail saying, “Are you guys coming to our party tomorrow?”

  • Katherine says:

    Claire, I did that for a party I went to last night and it was even an evite. All that takes it the click of a button, yes, no, or maybe. One of the women having the party had to call me the night before to make sure I got the e-mail. I went and had a fine time. I am sure the rsvp’ing thing has something to do with my social anxiety.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

© Claire LaZebnik 2017. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. DESIGNED BY MAX LAZEBNIK